KNOXVILLE - Tennessee practiced in the morning sunshine Thursday at Haslam Field, but its young players still appeared to be lost in the darkness.
"Every day, elements of our youth show up in different areas," head coach Derek Dooley said. "I think the biggest challenge we're going to have as a team is when things aren't going our way, do we have the maturity to know how to pull out of it?
"Things went bad early for the offense. The defense poured it on. We just need to learn how to be a little more solution-oriented. It's the old line, ‘Don't curse the darkness. Light a candle.' We get all the excuses out, we quit worrying about the last play, we start focusing on what our job is the next play and we'll execute our way out of it. That's going to be our big challenge this year."
One of the Vols' light-a-candle methods has been to go for the big play, which hasn't been effective.
"It's (the next play mentality) directed at everybody, but I've seen it mostly on offense. We have eight sophomores out there. There's just not a lot of calm leadership so to speak. When things aren't going good, because we're young we have a tendency to want to make a big play to get us to come out of it. To me, that's the worst thing we could do. I talked to Tyler about that today.
"That's not the time to be shooting the ball 60 yards down the field when everybody is frustrated. That's the time to drop it down to the checkdown. Let's get five yards. Let's hand the ball off and get four yards. Settle it down. Focus on execution. That to me is just a maturity thing that we have to learn. When things aren't going good in a game, which they're not going to go good. We're going to go through some stretches where we look bad. We have to learn how to play out of it. That's the mark of a real confident, mature team and we're not even close to that right now."
Vols get help from pair of freshman linebackers
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is so pleased with how the Volunteers freshmen linebackers are playing he told position coach Peter Sirmon not to bother with coaching them.
Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson appear to be working their way toward starting jobs at outside linebacker, flanking senior Austin Johnson at the positions that were among the Vols' biggest questions heading into fall camp.
Dooley says the freshmen are big, physical and smart and love to play ball.
The Vols had already graduated starters Nick Reveiz and LaMarcus Thompson when Herman Lathers broke his ankle in June. Lathers, a junior, is expected to miss at least a quarter of the season.
In Saturday's scrimmage, Maggitt finished second on the team with six tackles, four for a loss. A.J. Johnson had five.
Vols' opener televised on pay-per-view
KNOXVILLE (UT) -- Tennessee's 2011 football season opener versus Montana on Saturday, September 3 in Knoxville will be televised on a pay-per-view basis across the state of Tennessee. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. CT.
The announcing team for the game telecast will be veteran broadcaster Randy Smith (play-by-play) along with former Vol quarterback Jeff Francis (color analyst). Cable systems across the state of Tennessee are scheduled to carry the telecast from the VideoSeat pay-per-view service.
Fans should contact their local cable system starting Monday, August 29 to find out how to order the game and receive price information. The game will also be made available as a pay-per-view event to Tennessee Dish Network subscribers and DirecTV subscribers. Channel numbers and ordering information for home dish owners will be published the week of the game.
ESPN GamePlan is expected to offer the game to fans living outside the state of Tennessee via the ESPN GamePlan package. The game will be blacked out on ESPN GamePlan in the state of Tennessee and cannot be ordered as part of ESPN's package.